MORRISSEY: Bears’ use of false positives is frightening
BY RICK MORRISSEY Staff Columnist October 21, 2013 9:14PM
Updated: November 23, 2013 6:27AM
It took coach Marc Trestman six minutes at a news conference Monday before he mentioned the significant injuries to Jay Cutler and Lance Briggs — injuries likely to bury the Bears’ season. That’s like talking about early-20th-century cuisine for the first hour of a ‘‘What Caused That Whole Titanic Thing?’’ symposium.
Finally, Trestman got to the torn groin muscle that, according to the team, will keep Cutler out at least four weeks and the fractured shoulder bone that will sideline Briggs for about six weeks.
To his credit, general manager Phil Emery went only four minutes before he alluded to the quarterback and linebacker during his own gathering Monday, but he gets demerits for talking about punter Adam Podlesh and long snapper Patrick Mannelly before discussing Cutler and Briggs.
Trestman and Emery were intent on sending the message that there is hope for the rest of the season. Both men are listed as questionable for the Nov. 4 Green Bay game after straining credulity.
Emery might want to get busy preparing the franchise tag he can slap on Cutler for next season.
Trestman said he likes what he sees from his team as it heads into the bye week after its 45-41 loss Sunday to the Washington Redskins. And, yes, he did seem perfectly aware that the Packers are next on the schedule.
‘‘There’s a lot of reasons to be excited about coming back here next week and cleaning up the things that we can get better at,’’ he said. ‘‘We get the opportunity to go to Lambeau Field. We know it’s going to be for a first-place position in our [division], regardless of what happens this weekend. Our guys should be excited about that and I believe they will.
‘‘I think they can rally around each other and embrace the opportunity to make this a very positive week in advance, amidst an environment where there’s going to certainly be people who think otherwise.’’
That would be where I come in.
I started to ask him the obvious question but ended up making the obvious statement: Coach, I know you said you liked your team’s attitude in the locker room, but with all due respect, you don’t have much of a team without Cutler and Briggs.
‘‘I think we do have a team,’’ he said. ‘‘I beg to differ with you. You’re entitled to your opinion, but these things are going on throughout the National Football League. Good players are going down throughout.
‘‘. . . We’re confident that Josh [McCown] can come and move the team, and how could anybody say why not after [Sunday]?’’
McCown indeed played very well in relief of Cutler. But his 10½-year career suggests he’s an average quarterback. Perhaps Trestman the Quarterback Whisperer can work his magic. That won’t fix a defense that was bad before Briggs got hurt, however.
If I had a do-over with Trestman, I would have asked: Have you seen your defense? That battered, bloodied and depleted defense? Have you noticed that you have no pass rush and that your safeties were lost against the Redskins? And that Briggs, the leader of your defense, is out?
Maybe next time.
We move on to Cutler’s uncomfortable situation. The Bears declined to give a range for how long he’ll be out, only to say that after four weeks, he’ll be evaluated from week to week. It had the faint whiff of a PR spin to it. Recovery from torn groin muscles varies from player to player. Former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Jason Webster missed the last eight games of the 2006 season with a similar injury. In other words, you never know.
Although the offense has improved, Cutler’s injury makes things difficult for both him and the franchise. If he’s out for an extended period, the Bears would be smart to put the exclusive franchise tag on him for next season, giving him the average of the top five salaries among NFL quarterbacks. They thus would have more time to decide whether he’s worthy of a multiyear contract.
Cutler has been injured in four of his five seasons here. It would be reasonable for the Bears to wait and see if he can stay healthy and thrive in Trestman’s offensive system.
But forget about all that for now. Remember: Everybody remain positive.
‘‘There should be no reason why we wouldn’t come back [from the bye week] with great optimism,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘We played a heck of a game.’’